The Lending Cupboard is searching for ways to address the need for a larger facility, a bigger budget, more staff and volunteers to meet growing public demand to borrow medical equipment.
On Tuesday morning, the non-profit released a Community Needs Assessment Report that looks at population and demographic growth trends, emerging health and wellness issues in Central Alberta.
Executive director Dawna Morey said the community and health care providers mistakenly believe the non-profit is funded by government when only 15 per cent of its $335,000 annual budget is covered by Alberta Health Services for people with hip and knee replacements.
Morey said it’s also a misconception that the funding people receive through Aids to Daily Living program goes to The Lending Cupboard. The only benefit is that some people will donate their equipment.
“We’re very appreciative of that. But there’s no money there to maintain that equipment, to have the equipment provided to the client, all of those things,” Morey said on Tuesday.
The non-profit also addresses the needs of clients with orthopedic disorders, arthritis, heart disease, strokes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, diabetes, obesity and cancer which are all on the rise.
In 2015-16, The Lending Cupboard lent out 16,000 pieces of equipment to 4,300 clients, up from 330 pieces to 456 clients in 2006 when the Cupboard opened.
According to the report, seniors are the largest users of the Cupboard, which lends equipment at no cost to Central Albertans, and by 2036 about 20 per cent of Alberta’s population will be over age 65.
As more people experience poverty due to the recession, more will also look to the Cupboard for help instead of buying or renting equipment.
When it comes to its facility, the Cupboard has sometimes had to rely on extra storage space in a sea can located in its parking lot and has an overflow warehouse for storing extra equipment.
Storage is a problem despite about 80 per cent of equipment being on loan at any given time.
“We’re bursting and we need help to be able to expand,” said Morey, the Cupboard’s only full-time employee.
The Cupboard is open five hours, three days a week and as demand increases, so should staffing and volunteers to make the service more readily available, she said.
“When I’m in the office on the days we are closed there are people at the door wanting, needing equipment so it’s something that we truly need to address.”